To November 30 #nov30
Joking or not, the jibes heard by Jeremy Clarkson tonight are not unlike the sort of jibes I, and I am sure many of you, will have heard on the trains and buses, in the workplace and on social networks tonight.
I mean how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed, while the rest of us have to work for a living.
He might be trying to wind us up, but he’s also a hard-wired twat who says things that he knows will tap into popular or unsure sentiment.
Recently Owen Jones published a blog on LabourList blowing these accusations right out of the water:
the average pension of a civil servant is about £4,000 a year; more than 100,000 earn less than £2,000 a year … Public sector workers do the equivalent of 120 million hours of unpaid overtime a year … [average pension of] 346 directors from 102 of the UK’s top companies … was worth £201,700: about 25 times higher than the average worker.
Though this is not to say the private sector has never had it so good. A recent TUC report entitled A Race to the Bottom noted that two out of three private sector workers get no employer support for their pensions, whilst also saying that rather than being vengeful, private sector workers should be angry about the higher rate of tax relief on pension contributions that wealthier people are entitled to.
Talking up the Dutch model for pension schemes, David Pitt-Watson said in 2010:
Today our pensions, particularly those in the private sector, are provided in individual accounts, with no employer guarantee. Again, the employer and employee both contribute to the scheme, but the benefit is unknown. So they are known as defined contribution schemes.
It is not that public sector pensions shouldn’t be raised through general taxation, but that employers should feel duty bound to ensure pension contributions are guaranteed – because after all employers depend on those employees for their company to function, and that gratitude should be felt through retirement.
The opinion that public sector workers are lazy is one that the government has made no efforts to hide. That is until strike action reminded them just how necessary their work is. But consider to what extent this hard work is rewarded today.
As Duncan Weldon said today, “Over the course of 2010 to 2015 the average growth in real household disposable income (RHDI) will have been just 0.5% per annum.”
Furthermore according to figures by HM Revenue & Customs, reminded by Richard Murphy, in his new book The Courageous State, between 1976 (the end of the “Keynesian era”) and 2003 (the last year which HMRC publish data) the top 10% wealthiest increased its share by 29% to 34% while the top 1% increased its share from 57% to 71%.
The bottom 50%, however, saw its share fall from 12% to 1%.
Incomes and wealth of half the country has seen massive falls over the years, while the top strata have seen rises. Of the former, there exists both public and private sector workers, for whom a shared sense of anger should be directed, not each other, but, towards the rich.
They, after all, are the ones with real gilt-edged pensions.
To many more November 30s.